Walk - Godrevy Head
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2021. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From the car park follow the Coast Path out towards the headland keeping the sea on your left.
A little way offshore is Godrevy Island with its lighthouse – thought to be the inspiration for 'To the Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf who spent many summer holidays in St Ives.
As you walk along, keep an eye out in the water for grey seals playing and hunting for fish in the surf, and for the pod of bottlenose dolphins that are often seen further off-shore in St Ives Bay. Guillemots, razorbills, fulmar and cormorant are among the many seabirds that nest on the cliffs around the headland.
Beyond Godrevy Island a dangerous reef known as the Stones extends out into St Ives Bay, and many vessels have been wrecked here over the years. It was the scene of a famous shipwreck in 1649. In the aftermath of the execution of King Charles I, followers attempted to send his lace trimmed garments and other possessions abroad for safe keeping as relics of the 'Martyr King'. The ship was wrecked and only a few of the clothes were washed ashore.
Following the loss of the screw steamer ‘Nile’ with all hands in 1859, public pressure led to Trinity House constructing the lighthouse designed by James Walker. It was maintained by a two-man crew. The 26 metre high white octagonal tower is made from rubble stone bedded in mortar. The tower is 28 metres above the sea at high water. 1 white and 1 red light flashes every 10 seconds and can be seen for 8 nautical miles. The cost of the station, with its adjoining keepers' cottages, was £7,082 15s 7d.
The original optic revolved on rollers, driven by a clockwork motor, which was in turn driven by a large weight running down a cavity in the wall of the tower. Until it was automated in 1939, there was a 3cwt bell used as a Fog signal. This was struck once every 5 seconds.
Further modernisation was undertaken in 1995, when it was converted to operate with solar power. It is now monitored and controlled from the Trinity House Operations Control Centre at Harwich in Essex. In 2005 a review proposed closure, but following campaigning, this decision was overturned, and the light continues to provide a warning to mariners. In 2012 the light was moved from the lighthouse tower to a new steel structure on the adjacent rock.
- As you come around to the north side of the headland, the path starts to descend slightly and as you pass Mutton Cove (there is no access down the cliff to the cove), a path leads off on the right, returning you to the car park. Alternatively the walk can be easily extended with a gentle stroll onwards along the Coast Path to the next headland, Navax Point and the Knavocks.
Here a small herd of Shetland ponies help maintain the mix of grassland merging into heathland and gorse scrub which provide an ideal habitat for nesting birds such as stonechats, and butterflies such as the grayling.
The Godrevy Café (on the approach road to Godrevy Head).